Re: What language(s) did Jesus speak?

From: Adrian Popa (
Date: Fri Feb 28 1997 - 04:32:06 EST

Micheal Palmer wrote:
> I am reading Graham Stanton's book, _The Gospels and Jesus_ and saw that he
> makes the claim (on page 145) that of the ossuaries discovered in the area
> of Israel dating between the years 200 BC and AD 100, a full two thirds of
> them have their inscriptions in Greek rather than Hebrew or Aramaic. I have
> not read Porter's article on the languages used in first-century Palestine,
> but I don't need convincing that Jesus could have used Greek. My own
> research has convinced me of that some time ago. My question is whether
> anyone can verify Stanton's claim. Does Porter deal with this evidence?
> Where did Stanton get this figure?

Yes, Porter does consider the inscriptional evidence from burial sites (pp.
221-23). Stanton's claim is statistically accurate: 68/70% of all funerary inscriptions
from the Mediterranean world, and 55-60% from Palestine, are in Greek. At some places,
such as Beth She'arim, the percentage is even higher (80%). Perhaps this represents the
level of aquiantance and ability to converse in Greek in the first two centuries of the
CE. Porter cites van der Horst (whose contribution to this field is substantial) as

        if even rabbis and their families phrased their epitaphs
        in Greek, there is only one natural explanation for that
        phenomenon: Greek was the language of their daily lives.

I would also concur with that.

Adrian Popa

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